At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Monday, October 31, 2005

Red Sox Fans Breathe Deeply: Theo is Still in the House

Woke up this morning and was treated to the news that Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has agreed to a new contract that will keep him in the role for another three years. After reading for days about a supposed Fenway Feud, it’s nice to know that the two sides have come together, and that the architect of the First World Championship in 86 Years (“all right already!”) will be with us for a while longer.

Oh, and by the way? Don’t believe for a minute that Johnny Damon’s contract negotiations have been waiting for Theo’s situation to be settled. Damon’s agent is the one, the only Scott Boras, and I don’t believe for a minute he’d allow our Number One Idiot to re-sign with the Sox before he talked to any and every other major league club that has either (a) money or (b) motivation.

Yankees, Mets, Angels, Dodgers … these are the usual suspects, even though the LAD have neither manager nor GM at the moment. But how about the Cardinals, who must be getting tired of the ‘close-but-no-cigar’ outcomes of the past two years, who are losing right fielder Larry Walker to retirement, and who are moving into a new ballpark? Or the Orioles, who made a run this past season, who weren’t afraid to sign Miguel Tejada, another marquee player, two years ago, and who won’t have Rafael Palmeiro to kick around (or pay) anymore? Or the Blue Jays, who aren’t that far away from competing effectively and who may have the money, though the market may be too small for the media-sharp Damon?

I still think Damon will end up staying in Boston, but he seems to enjoy the limelight much more than fellow Boras-ite Jason Varitek does (’Tek, it may be remembered, re-signed without much of a public fuss), and I’d expect a noisy and interesting ride before Damon’s deal is all said and done.

Speaking of deals, does it mean anything that the Boston Globe today reports that were Manny Ramirez indeed to be traded, a likely destination would be Los Angeles/Anaheim? According to the article, the Angels are seeking to jettison salary and therefore might entertain offers for either Steve Finley or Darin Erstad. Me, I’d pass on Finley, but Erstad is intriguing, for he’s a professional hitter, a solid first baseman, and a one-time center fielder who theoretically could replace Manny in Fenway’s relatively gentle left field (Erstad’s history of injuries may make a return to center too dicey to consider). I’d have to ask for something more than just Erstad before pulling the trigger on such a deal, but it’s an interesting possibility nonetheless. Don’t you think?


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